It's a Britney tribute! Jk.
I was writing in my journal the other night and I go to the "screw up" section. This is the part where I put down what I messed up that day. Man, the floodgates opened - all for one day! Now, granted the day I was writing about was St. Patrick's Day and while we had a great day with friends, there were, shall I say, repercussions.
It is true that whenever we set expectations for ourselves, there are bound to be misses. And I do wonder if in my earlier years I didn't set daily expectations for myself because I didn't want the feeling of knowing I'd missed.
But here's the truth. Deep down, we do know we've missed, even if we never specifically set them out, like - "I'll write for 30 minutes" or "I'll run three miles". On some level, I'm always taking stock of my day, my life and whether I'm measuring up.
Setting specific expectations for myself allows me to move from the subjective to the objective. So I'm no longer thinking, "You suck, you didn't do enough today." Instead, I know either I've hit the mark I've set for myself that day, or not.
The thing I like about writing this stuff down is there's finality to it. I can put it to bed (when I go to bed). I write it down and acknowledge it as a screw up. " I didn't write today." or "I didn't do my push ups." And it reaffirms for me the need to get back on track the next day. "Holding myself accountable" as the hipsters like to say (?).
I had very authoritarian parents growing up. Perhaps because they were teachers from a certain era, or to compensate for parenting insecurities, who knows. Nonetheless, I was trained to get my orders from the top. But what happens when there's no longer a top? Where do you go to set expectations?
Parents, keep this in mind. Your goal is to raise happy, healthy, independent adults. One of the ways we function as independent adults is to set intentions for ourselves and hold ourselves accountable for those.
Look for ways to indirectly encourage your kids to start developing and setting their own intentions. One of the simplest ways to do this is to shift from directives to asking questions. "How will you get to school on time?" "How will you get all your work done and go to Sally's tomorrow?" (Is anyone really named Sally?)
And don't give them the answer. Give them suggestions and ideas. Because as crazy as this sounds, the answer doesn't really matter. Blasphemy.
We as parents, think the answer matters. It doesn't. It's the PROCESS that matters. Are they learning how to set their own intentions, figure out how to accomplish them and hold themselves accountable? That's the real thing that's happening behind the window dressing.
Sally got an A on her test! (Again with the Sally) Who cares? ?
What's really happening behind the scenes? Did you task master her to the finish line? or did she focus so exclusively on mastering the material she chewed her fingers to the bone and didn't do anything else for 4 days?
So, don't get distracted by the window dressing - good or bad. Your focus is what's going on underneath. (The secret hard part, btw).
Another great way to do this is to model the behavior. Share your screw ups with your kids. Let them see that this is an on-going process that should be baked into our DNA and not something we're ashamed of. Setting realistic expectations for ourselves, acknowledging when we miss the mark, and then getting back on the horse and trying again. It should become as natural and as second nature as breathing.
Your kids will then see this normalized and won't fear any component or aspect of the equation.
Good luck, have fun and let me know how it's going out there...